The criminal trial against Finnish politician Paivi Rasanen began on January 24. A medical doctor by profession, the Christian parliamentarian – a former government minister and leader of the Christian Democrats party – is charged with the crime of “ethnic agitation”, under the section of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Finnish criminal code. 

Her crime (committed in June 2019) was to tweet a question to her own denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, after it agreed to sponsor the Helsinki LGBT Pride Parade. She asked: “How can the church’s doctrinal foundation, the Bible, be compatible with the lifting up of shame and sin as a subject of pride?”

Rasanen was later charged with two more criminal acts – one relating to a radio debate in 2019 and another related to a pamphlet she wrote on sexuality for her church in 2004. The bishop who published the pamphlet, Rev. Dr Juhana Pohjola, is also facing trial. As Finnish media note, “for the first time in Finland, the court will have to rule on whether quoting the Bible can be a crime”. Early reports from the courtroom bode ill for religious freedom in Finland. P

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